Gentoo Penguin

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Height: 85 to 95 cm (34 to 38 inches) for average adult.

Weight: 10 to 15 kg (22 to 35 lbs) for average adult.


  • Female and male adults look similar with the female a little smaller.
  • Bright orange spoon-shaped ear patches on head with shades of orange on the throat.
  • Juveniles covered in chocolate brown downy feathers. First explorers thought the chick was a separate species and named it the Wooly Penguin.


  • Black.


  • Feeds in the Convergence region on fish and squid.
  • Likes to fish close to the colony and rarely swims south into the icy colder seas.


  • Lives in colonies on sub-Antarctic islands with easy access to beaches.


  • As breeding adults arrive at the rookeries they point their bill skyward and trumpet while opening their flippers to attract a mate.
  • Makes no nest.
  • Incubates the one egg balancing it on its feet tucked into the brook patch.
  • Females and males share the duty of incubating the egg until it hatches in approximately 54 days.
  • Both parents take responsibility for caring for the chick and keeping it warm.
  • Chicks may take over 1 year to fledge and are easy to see with their chocolate brown feather parkas.
  • Chicks are usually found in crèches near the beach allowing both parents to fish.
  • Chicks are fed frequently and gain weight quickly.
  • When parents return with food they let out a special call and their chick answers with its own unique voice only its parents can recognize. The chick rushes to the parent to be fed. The chick often chases the parent around the colony pestering it for more food.
  • Rookeries are occupied year round because the breeding cycle is unlike any other penguin’s breeding twice every three years. At King Penguin rookeries there are often penguins incubating eggs next to crèches of chicks. The colony is constantly full because of the long breeding cycle where newly hatched chicks are side by side to last year’s chicks.
  • When the chicks are approximately 5 months old they shed their furry down, start to resemble the adults, fledge and will return about 3 years later to breed.


  • Killer Whales and Leopard Seals while they are in the water

Interesting Facts

  • Unlike Emperor Penguins the King Penguins do not huddle during blizzards.
  • First explorers thought the chick was another species of penguin calling them “Wooly Penguins.” © All rights reserved.

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